In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

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9780141001821: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
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From the author of Mayflower, Valiant Ambition, and In the Hurricane's Eye--the riveting bestseller tells the story of the true events that inspired Melville's Moby-Dick

Winner of the National Book Award, Nathaniel Philbrick's book is a fantastic saga of survival and adventure, steeped in the lore of whaling, with deep resonance in American literature and history.

In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea, recently adapted into a major feature film starring Chris Hemsworth, is a book for the ages.

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The appeal of Dava Sobel's Longitude was, in part, that it illuminated a little-known piece of history through a series of captivating incidents and engaging personalities. Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea is certainly cast from the same mold, examining the 19th-century Pacific whaling industry through the arc of the sinking of the whaleship Essex by a boisterous sperm whale. The story that inspired Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick has a lot going for it--derring-do, cannibalism, rescue--and Philbrick proves an amiable and well-informed narrator, providing both context and detail. We learn about the importance and mechanics of blubber production--a vital source of oil--and we get the nuts and bolts of harpooning and life aboard whalers. We are spared neither the nitty-gritty of open boats nor the sucking of human bones dry.

By sticking to the tried and tested Longitude formula, Philbrick has missed a slight trick or two. The epicenter of the whaling industry was Nantucket, a small island off Cape Cod; most of the whales were in the Pacific, necessitating a huge journey around the southernmost tip of South America. We never learn why no one ever tried to create an alternative whaling capital somewhere nearer. Similarly, Philbrick tells us that the story of the Essex was well known to Americans for decades, but he never explores how such legends fade from our consciousness. Philbrick would no doubt reply that such questions were beyond his remit, and you can't exactly accuse him of skimping on his research. By any standard, 50 pages of footnotes impress, though he wears his learning lightly. He doesn't get bogged down in turgid detail, and his narrative rattles along at a nice pace. When the storyline is as good as this, you can't really ask for more. --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780670891573: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0670891576 ISBN 13:  9780670891573
Publisher: Viking, 2000
Hardcover

9780143126812: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Movie Tie-In)

Pengui..., 2015
Softcover

9780008126834: In the Heart of the Sea: The Epic True Story That Inspired `Moby-Dick'

Harper..., 2015
Softcover

9780006531203: In the Heart of the Sea : The Epic True Story That Inspired 'Moby Dick

Harper..., 2001
Softcover

9781568951782: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Wheeler Large Print Press (large print paper))

Wheele..., 2001
Softcover

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